The New Frontier of Violin According to Bridgid Bibbens

Bridgid Bibbens

Proficient across all genres

Violinist Bridgid Bibbens’ classical training is evident in everything she does. She has performed with major artists in the rock, pop and jazz worlds, including Christina Aguilera, Mary J Blige, Jay-Z, Robin Thicke, Father John Misty, John Mayer, Alicia Keys, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Jenny Lewis, Guster, Tommy Lee, Josh Groban, and Harry Connick, Jr.  Television appearances include NBC’s Today Show, the CBS Early Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, and Austin City Limits.

The Study

Bridgid began her violin studies at the age of three. Upon being awarded a full scholarship from Syracuse University, she earned a bachelor’s degree in violin and oboe performance and a master’s degree in music education. For seven years, Bridgid directed school orchestra programs in upstate New York and Boston, MA. She has guided students to All-State, regional select orchestras, and award-winning performances in Boston’s iconic Symphony Hall. She is passionate about teaching students the importance of a diverse musical palette. She has led honors orchestras for the West Tennessee Band and Orchestra Association, Ulster County, NY, and Fayetteville County, GA. She’s also presented clinics for the Florida Music Educators’ Association, New York State School Music Association, and the American String Teachers’ Association.

Bridgid has been featured in interviews with Making Music Magazine and Guitar World magazine, as well as appearing in ads for Bugera amps in Guitar World, Guitar Player, Guitar Legends, and several other magazines. Bridgid is in high demand nationwide as a performer and studio player. She has recorded on numerous albums, and her solo album was released in early 2013. She also performs for private and corporate events all over the U.S.

In addition to her full schedule as a professional musician, Bridgid is a personal trainer, yoga instructor, and runs a sanctuary for rescued farm animals outside of Austin, TX. Other interests include photography, snowboarding, running, outdoor adventures, and vegan cooking and eating.

Bridgid Plays the Following Gear

  • Wood Violins custom 7-string fretted Viper electric violin
  • Bugera amps
  • Glasser carbon fiber bows and carbon fiber electric violins
  • Boss effects
  • Blackstar distortion
  • Fishman acoustic preamp

Bridgid Bibbens Merch

Bridgid the Educator

I offer workshops to schools all over the country. I provide my own string orchestra arrangements of popular music and teach students extended performance techniques for pop and rock music, as well as teaching improvisation. I also work with string music educators to give them some approaches on teaching improvisation and technique to their students.

Interview with Bridgid

Bridgid Bibbens: I think the most important part of my career has been staying open minded to all possibilities. I started out very exclusively classical, and had no interest in  branching out. When I realized that there was a whole world of music that I was cut off from (in terms of creating and collaborating with other musicians, and playing by ear), I was incredibly excited to learn and grow as a more well-rounded musician.

Chuck Schiele: What does life as a musician mean to you?

Bridgid Bibbens: Riding the ups and downs. There are lots of both, and it’s impossible to have one without the other. I’m constantly learning and growing as a player as well as an entrepreneur, having to constantly shift and adapt to an ever-changing industry.

Chuck Schiele: Please tell us about your thoughts on a traditional violin vs. modern electric extra-string violins?.

Bridgid Bibbens: I can’t imagine my life without both. There is a magic to a beautifully crafted acoustic instrument. The resonance and depth is captivating. However, I think those who write off electric instruments are doing a disservice to the community of bowed string players. The fireworks and exponentially broadened horizons of possibilities on extended-range electric instruments are truly incredible.

Chuck Schiele: What makes you interested in working with any particular artist or project? Who are some of the acts you’ve worked with?

Bridgid Bibbens

Bridgid Bibbens: I love variety. I’ve worked with a small flamenco ensemble, several “bar bands” and regionally-touring tribute bands, and I’ve also performed in a sold-out Madison Square Garden and to millions of home viewers on the Today show and David Letterman. I’ve played for weddings of high-profile people like Michael Jordan and Serena Williams. I love the spectacle and precision of high-end events, and I love the guerilla “throw and go” approach of smaller gigs. A friend once told me there are three criteria to look for in any gig: great music, great pay, and a great hang. If you’re gonna get two out of three, you take the gig. I’ve been fortunate to have three out of three more often than not, and it’s very rare that I’ve had any gig that wasn’t a great hang

Chuck Schiele: What do you look for when choosing who accompanies you?

Bridgid Bibbens: Personality, first and foremost! I’m super easygoing and like to have fun. I have a hard time working with folks who are extremely uptight or serious. While I want to do the best job I can do, always, I don’t want to be miserable while I’m doing it. There has to be a chemistry between musicians – it comes through in the performance, either way.

Chuck Schiele: Please tell us a bit about the types of gear you work with. And tell us about how gear has evolved.

Bridgid Bibbens: With my electric violin, it’s a constant struggle. Gear is made for guitars, which have a completely different setup. Whenever I work with any pedal, it takes a lot of tweaking to make it work with the unique frequencies and idiosyncrasies of the electric violin. My favorite amp for my instrument has remained steadfast since I first found it 10 years ago – my Bugera 6262 combo. However I’ve been through dozens of multi-effects and specialized effects pedals. I’ve enjoyed working with Boss effects pedals. They’ve given me a wide range of pedals to experiment with and their newer multi-effects pedals work really smoothly with my electric fiddle.

Chuck Schiele: What is the number one thing on your mind when you practice?

Bridgid Bibbens: Intonation, intonation, intonation. Nothing sounds worse than an out-of-tune violin – except a really loud, out-of-tune electric violin.

Chuck Schiele: What is the number one thing on your mind when you take the stage?

Bridgid bibbens

Bridgid Bibbens: Anticipation of what’s going to happen. Interaction with my fellow musicians as well as the audience. I was recently on tour with the band Guster and I loved that every single show was different. We had a different set list every night, we played a wide variety of venues from Hollywood Forever cemetery in LA to the famed Castro Theater in San Francisco to a tiny theater in Aspen. Each show was unique and memorable, and I really loved that vibe rather than the shows I’ve played where you’re in the bowels of a different arena every night, the set list never changes, and even the jokes are the same from show to show.

Chuck Schiele: What would you say to folks interested in learning to play the violin?

Bridgid Bibbens: Don’t give up! It’s such a tough and frustrating instrument to begin, no matter what age you are.  Find a teacher whose style you admire, be disciplined with your practice, even when you don’t want to, and give yourself some grace. Everyone who you look up to as a performer was once a screechy-scratchy beginner, too.

Chuck Schiele: The importance and art of listening. Please discuss.

Bridgid Bibbens

Bridgid Bibbens: Ooooh, I like this question! There are a lot of possible approaches to an answer but I’ll choose the aspect of listening to learn a tune. If you’re learning a tune that’s already been written, whether by Brahms or the Beatles, the more you listen to it the quicker you’ll learn it and the better you’ll play it. If you’re learning a new tune written by your band mates, you must listen to every single part. You should know what the other players are doing and how your part fits into that. This goes for any style of music, whether in an orchestra or arena rock setting.

Chuck Schiele: Is there anything else you’d like to share or discuss as it applies to violin.

Bridgid Bibbens: I think it’s incredibly important to diversify as a violinist. Shortly after finishing grad school, I discovered there’s a big difference between being a “violinist” and being a “musician”. While I was a well-trained technician on the instrument, I had no ability to play anything that hadn’t previously been written on a page. I couldn’t just “jam in D”, or create anything of my own. In the current state of the music industry, it’s incredibly risky to put yourself in one box, say as *only* an orchestral/chamber player or *only* a jazz player. If you want to make a living as a musician who plays the violin, it’s necessary to be just as proficient in improvisation and comping as you are on the Bach Sonatas and orchestral audition excerpts. Plus, it’s just a lot more fun.

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Chuck Schiele is an award-winning musician, producer, editorialist, artist, activist and music fan. He still plays every day.

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